Friday, June 20, 2008

I Scream for Ice Cream!

As mentioned previously, here are some details about the ice cream component of the Summer Treats demo class I'll be teaching at Shermay's Cooking School on 12 July 2008 , 13 July 2008 , 26 July 2008 and 27 July 2008 - the July schedule has all the booking details; for all inquiries, please call the school at +65 6479 8442 or email

Speaking strictly based on the many conversations I've had with the lovely people who've attended my previous classes, I've come to realize that when it comes to big ticket purchases, most cooks have their wish list divided into 2 categories - is it a "Need to have" or is it a "Want to have"? And the ice cream machine - the serious sort with a built-in self-freezing compressor system - more often than not is deemed as belonging to the latter category. Excepting the sizeable pool of gadget aficionados (read: those who already possess the ice cream machine of their dreams), those who have yet to cross this item off their list have yet to do so for various reasons. Some simply don't see themselves making ice cream frequently enough to justify the purchase. Some - those who adore ice cream and are saving up to take the plunge eventually - knowingly half-jest that once they have the goods, they will have the best excuse to make and indulge in ice cream as frequently as possible so as to "amortize" their expenditure!

I wanted the ice cream menu to be all-inclusive, so there's plenty to appeal should one not have an ice cream machine and/or don't plan to. To this end, the menu features 2 quick "No Churning Required!" ice creams that don't need the use of a machine to achieve delicious results, as well as a classic custard-based affair that's exactly the sort of recipe those high end automatic models were designed to churn to creamy frozen perfection with the mere press of a button.


While I own and love and regularly use an ice cream machine, I am just as apt to find myself making an instant ice that does without. The instant ices come from the SOS section of my recipe files - the section I make a beeline for on those days I (a) need to produce dessert pronto, (b) am too tired to haul the ice cream-making behemoth from the shelf to the kitchen counter, or (c) am too impatient to either coax and worry a custard into spoon-coating consistency or contemplate the dismantling, cleaning, drying and re-assembly of various small parts of gadgetry. The point is, these brilliantly easy recipes are very useful to have on hand on those days you're feeling less than up to anything remotely persnickety.

As befits the nature of such days, these instant ice recipes do not require that arduous work known as still freezing, the conventional technique of freezing ice cream without an ice cream machine - this process involves the stirring by hand or electric whisk or food processor or blender at hourly intervals during the freezing of the ice cream mixture until a uniform slush forms, at least twice and more like thrice.

The formation of large ice crystals is inhibited in these instant ice mixtures thanks to the generous use of cream and sugar, thus allowing them to freeze evenly without constant stirring and beating. In other words, simply scrape the mixture into a container and the freezer takes care of the rest.

Lemon Ice Cream
A good amount of freshly squeezed lemon juice and fragrant lemon zest cut through the richness of this ice cream. Once the mixture is frozen, simply serve in scoops.

Alternatively, for a spiffy presentation, freeze the mixture in hollowed lemon half-shells, slice when firm, and serve as lemon wedges! Because the mixture is whipped till it holds a soft peak, it can also be piped into a hollowed lemon before freezing.

And if you happen to have unfrosted Lemon Grove Cupcakes or Coconut Cupcakes lying around, they make for a fabulous treat when topped with a scoop of Lemon Ice Cream...even better if the cupcake in question is still warm from the oven...

Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
I simply had to include this recipe. Every cook has her or his favourite ultimate vanilla ice cream recipe crafted in a time-honoured, artisanal manner, but this super simple quick fix is a trusty standby to know for all those times when you're simply not in the mood to fuss.
Peppermint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
Love the mint and chocolate flavour combination but abhor that shop-bought vile green travesty with gritty brown specks passing off as the real thing? This is the recipe for you; a plush custard rich with egg yolks and cream that's flavoured with pure peppermint extract and folded through with chips of Valrhona Equatoriale 55% bittersweet chocolate. While this recipe can certainly be made via the still freezing technique described earlier, churning the custard with an ice cream machine creates the most silky smooth texture and luxurious mouthfeel possible.

Next post up shortly: The layer cake flavour variations and bonus recipes included in the recipe pack.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Summer Treats Class at Shermay's: Layer Cakes, Cupcakes & Ice Creams

I'll be teaching a Summer Treats demo class at Shermay's Cooking School on 12 July 2008 (Saturday), 13 July 2008 (Sunday), 26 July 2008 (Saturday) and 27 July 2008 (Sunday) - the July schedule has all the necessary booking details. For all inquiries, please call the school at +65 6479 8442 or email

The class covers layer cakes, cupcakes and ice creams. This post features the layer cake and cupcakes; I will put up a separate post shortly with details about the ice creams, and another with details about the flavour variations and bonus recipes included in the recipe pack.


Few things embody the pleasures of baking like a lavish layer cake. Tall and grand in appearance, yet ultimately a tribute to homespun comforts, this head-turner of a cake graces the table like no other. It is beautiful even with the most minimal of decorative flourishes. Possibly, it is most beautiful when least fussed with, such is the perfection of its simplicity - moist, tender layers of cake, seams of flavourful fillings and lashings of lush frosting coming together to create a whole that's truly greater than the sum of its parts.

The class will cover all the essential techniques you'll need to know to level, split, fill and frost layer cakes, as well as tips on how to ensure good results every time.

Coconut Heaven
Classic Coconut Cake layers are filled and frosted with a Luxurious Coconut Buttercream, then finished with a blizzard of shredded coconut. The fabulous depth of flavour comes from using coconut cream in both the cake batter as well as the buttercream.

And in the event you want to produce something with all the savours but in a hurry, I've also included instructions on how to bake this versatile batter as cupcakes.

Lemon Grove Cupcakes
A zingy treat that I like to think of as sunshine in a pleated paper case, this cupcake packs a wonderfully tart punch thanks to the addition of fresh lemon juice, aromatic lemon zest, pure lemon extract and candied lemon peel. The batter is enriched with sour cream, which enhances the citrus tang as well as contributes to the velvety texture.

The topping, a Whipped White Chocolate & Lemon Ganache using Valrhona Ivoire 35%, is both delicious and very easy to make.

It is also a real joy to handle, and the ideal texture for piping - tinted a golden yellow, it makes for a rather fetching sunflower design.

I'll put up details on the ice cream component of the class soon. The menu features 2 quick "No Churning Required!" ice creams (Lemon Ice Cream and Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Bean Ice Cream) as well as a classic custard-based affair (Peppermint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream).

In addition, the recipe pack includes some bonus recipes and ideas for easy variations, including a pineapple filling flavoured with lime, dark rum & Madagascar Bourbon vanilla bean to put an island cocktail spin on the classic coconut layer cake - a PiƱa Colada Cake! There's also a Rose Water Glaze and a Rich Lemon & Lime Curd - extra topping and filling ideas for transforming the lemon cupcakes and getting the most mileage out of the recipe. I won't be demonstrating these extra recipes during class so will be elaborating on them shortly as well.